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‘How Ex-Air Force chief, Amosu, laundered N3bn NIMASA fund’



An investigator with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Tosin Owobo, narrated to the Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday how a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu (retd.), allegedly laundered N3bn belonging to the force using a number of oil and gas companies.
 told Justice Mohammed Idris that the N3bn allegedly laundered by Amosu was paid into the coffers of NAF by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, adding that the fund for the security of the Nigerian maritime space.
The investigator appeared in court as a prosecution witness in the trial of Amosu for an alleged fraud of N22.8bn.
The EFCC is prosecuting the ex-Air Force Chief alongside a former Chief of Accounts and Budgeting at the NAF, Air Vice Marshal Jacob Adigun; and a former Director of Finance and Budget, Air Commodore Olugbenga Gbadebo.
The defendants are facing trial alongside eight companies, namely: Delfina Oil and Gas Ltd., McAllan Oil And Gas Ltd, Hebron Housing and Properties Company Ltd., Trapezites BDC, Fonds and Pricey Ltd., Deegee Oil and Gas Ltd., Timsegg Investment Ltd., and Solomon Health Care Ltd.
The EFCC accused them of diverting N21bn from the Nigeria Air Force around March 5, 2014 in Lagos.
They were also accused of concealing “proceeds of crime” and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable  under Section 17(a).
They were arraigned on June 29, 2016 on 26 counts but all the defendants pleaded not guilty.
At the resumed trial on Wednesday, Owobo told Justice Idris that in 2014, Amosu wrote to NIMASA requesting for funds for maritime security.
He said Amosu itemised what was needed to provide maritime security and sent a proposal to NIMASA Director-General, Patrick Akpobolokemi.
The witness said Amosu demanded over N4bn from Akpobolokemi “as the cash amount needed” for the security service.
According to the witness, Akpobolokemi approved N3bn, which was paid to the Nigerian Air Force under Amosu.
“The money was released to NAF Special Emergency Operation account in 2014. NAF had also sent, as part of the memo, the account they wanted the money to be paid,” Owobo said.
According to the EFCC investigator, the letter requesting for the money from NIMASA was signed by Adigun on Amosu’s behalf.
“We discovered that between August and September 2014, the money was paid in three installments of N1bn each,” he said.
The witness said further investigation revealed that the money was moved from the NAF account to several oil and gas companies, such as Right Option Oil and Gas, Delfina Oil and Gas, McAllan Oil and Gas and others.
“As the monies came in, they were being transferred to various oil and gas companies. We carried out further analysis to know the accounts. We wrote the bank, requesting the statement of account of these oil companies,” the witness added.
The EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, tendered the account opening documents of the oil and gas companies as well as details of the NAF Special Emergency Operation account.
But, when he sought to ask the witness questions based on the documents, defence counsel, including Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN) and Norrison Quakers (SAN), objected on the basis that Owobo was not the maker of the documents, adding that the documents should speak for themselves.
But Oyedepo argued that since the witness was the investigator, he was at liberty to say what he discovered, including making references to the documents.
 Justice Idris adjourned till Thursday (today) for ruling and continuation of trial.
PUNCH